POLITICS

Labour Make Big Gains In Local Elections And Mayoral Polls

03/05/2012 21:49 | Updated 04 May 2012

Results are coming in from the 2012 local elections in England and Wales, and all indications are that Labour are making significant gains at the expense of the coalition parties.

With about half of the English and Welsh councils declared the results are starting to look particularly embarrassing for David Cameron, who has seen Labour make gains in Tory heartlands. Elsewhere Nottingham, Manchester and Coventry all voted No to the PM's plan to have elected Mayors. A referendum on in Birmingham is likely to produce the same result.

By 7:00 on Friday morning Labour had gained more than 450 council seats in England - while the Tories had lost over 250 seats and the Lib Dems had lost nearly 130 councillors. Turnout was projected to be 32% - a disturbingly low figure, even for local elections.

Labour were up by nearly 100 councillors in Wales, the Tories were down 30 and the Lib Dems down 25. Paid Cymru were down 12 councillors.

Key councils such as Thurrock, Harlow, Southampton, Birmingham, Norwich, Great Yarmouth and Chorley fell to Labour.

The Prime Minister was also embarrassed by losses in his Oxfordshire constituency - with Labour taking the seats of Witney Central, Witney East and Chipping Norton.

Labour also won the Liverpool Mayoral election - with Joe Anderson, a former leader of the council - winning by a landslide.

Andy Sawford from the local government think-tank LGiU told HuffPost on Friday morning: "Ed Miliband has hugely strengthened his leadership of the Labour party, having won more than the number of seats and councils that were predicted at the half way stage, with more counts to come today.

"Crucially though he will point to the correlation between council gains and the key marginals that Labour needs to win if it is to have a chance of forming the next government."

But it wasn't all plain sailing for Ed Miliband - shortly after 5am the Labour leader of Bradford Council lost his seat to a Respect party candidate. The party gained five seats overall - the council remains under no overall control.

Although the rain has held off in London for most of the day, Thursday was a washout across much of the Midlands - torrential downpours in places like Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire could suppress what's widely predicted to be a low turnout.

Austerity measures mean that many councils are not counting votes overnight - about a third are holding off until later on Friday morning, as is London and every count in Scotland.

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So it's going to be a long process of drip-drip results. The narrative - we expect - is for the Tories and Lib Dems to suffer bad headlines first thing in the morning, when it will become clear they're on course to lose hundreds of council seats.

But Labour will not be crowing. In addition to their problems in Bradford, it could easily be their turn to feel the wrath of voters later in the day when the results of the London and Glasgow elections come in. Many fear that Ken Livingstone is going to lose out against Boris Johnson, and that Glasgow Council, the so-called "jewel in the crown" of Labour's local powerbase, could be lost to an SNP surge.

A BBC projection of the national results suggested that Labour received 39% of the vote, the Tories 31%, Lib Dems 16% and others 14%.

Voting in the London Mayoral Election begins at 8:45am - with a declaration expected by Friday evening.

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